After years of struggling to have children of her own, Sarah was finally blessed with the gift of motherhood. But less than 2 months after her baby was born, she received some more life-changing news.
A Nearly-Perfect Couple
From a young age, Sarah LaFleur encountered many challenges, but she never let them get her down. In fact, she faced them headfirst, even giving up a corporate career to pursue a job in the fashion industry.
And she wasn’t alone - her husband Chris Schonberger had enjoyed his own successes working in food and television, building up an impressive resume as an entrepreneur. He and Fleur were a powerhouse and embodied #couplegoals in almost every way… except for one.
But before we get to that, let’s take a look at Sarah’s impressive career shift. After realizing how much time she spent sifting through her wardrobe looking for the right clothes to wear to work, she had an idea. She was determined to make the process easier by designing and producing her own outfits.
And thus, her clothing line, M.M.LaFleur, was born. Sarah collaborated with designer Miyako Nakamura to bring a fresh perspective to female work clothing, which Sarah felt was in a dire state due to low-quality designs. Very quickly, her workwear-based fashion label took off.
Forming Hot Ones
Chris, on the other hand, was also thriving in a new project of his own. He had started an extremely popular food blog called First We Feast, which "viewed food as an illuminating lens into pop culture, music, travel, and more through its innovative slate of food-driven video franchises."
The blog quickly raked in the ratings, and once Chris and co. started a YouTube channel and website with the same name, its popularity spread like wildfire. This was helped along by the global success of Hot Ones, an FWF YouTube series where celebrities are interviewed while eating very hot chicken wings.
Sarah and Chris first met in college, and they both spent the majority of their 20s committed to growing their careers. For the couple, it was imperative that they fulfilled their professional potential before settling down to start a family. But in 2015, their 20s came to an end, and those feelings began to change.
Now in their 30s, Sarah and Chris began taking serious steps forward in their relationship. They decided to get married, and around the same time, Sarah found herself thinking about children. “Oh my gosh, I need to be careful not to get pregnant because I don’t want to be pregnant at my wedding party,” she told Marie Claire.
Words Of Advice
At the time of the interview, Sarah hadn’t worried about delaying pregnancy. Yes, she wanted children. But she was more than happy to wait for the right time to have them. And once they had officially tied the knot, the new husband and wife agreed to start that the right time was now.
Before they began trying, Sarah chose to visit a fertility specialist on a friend's recommendation. She felt no stress about pregnancy, but she knew an expert could provide her with some useful and necessary information to make the process easier. She certainly didn't expect what happened next.
The Test Results
The fertility specialist waved away their desire for an examination. Since Sarah and Chris hadn’t actually started trying to get pregnant, he suggested they begin the journey and return in six months. But the couple were insistent. He finally caved, saying, “If you really want to run some basic tests, we can do that.”
So they ran the tests, but the results were far from basic. To both Sarah and the doctor's surprise, the test (which involved dye and stirrups) caused her so much intense pain that she had to be rushed to the hospital once it was over. If that wasn't bad enough, the test yielded shocking results.
A Rare Medical Condition
Those “basic tests” had discovered something very unusual. As it turned out, rather than a set of two fallopian tubes, Sarah had been born with only one. But it was more complicated than that - the tests showed that Sarah was dealing with a unicornuate uterus, a rare medical condition.
Sadly the condition has nothing to do with unicorns as it might imply. Instead, a unicornuate uterus causes children to be born with only one fallopian tube and half a uterus. The reason this was so heartbreaking for Sarah was that it made it highly unlikely that she would ever have her own child.
Against The Odds
Notice we said “unlikely” and not “impossible.” After looking into her startling medical condition, Sarah discovered that there was a possibility that a woman with a unicornuate uterus could become pregnant. Sadly, those pregnancies had a high chance of ending in miscarriage.
Despite the unlikelihood of achieving a full-term pregnancy, Chris and Sarah sought out another fertility specialist. Unfortunately, they were told the same thing - the odds of a successful pregnancy were not good, and their best bet was to look into other options.
A Statistical Unicorn
But Sarah could not shake the desire to conceive her own children in the traditional way. As statistically unlikely as she was to be able to have a successful birth, it had also been statistically unlikely for her to have a unicornuate uterus, too - and she’d achieved that! But would she beat the odds again?
Only 1 in 500 women were born with this condition, which meant it not only affected their fertility, but it was also thoroughly underresearched. Even within the medical community, her options for treatment weren’t clear. The people in their life encouraged Sarah and Christ to consider surrogacy, but they were adamant.
A Second Shock
So for the next few months, the couple continued trying for a baby, taking pregnancy test after pregnancy test. Sarah remained hopeful. And one day, as she waited for the results of another test, she found herself holding her breath. Could it be possible that her dreams would finally come true?
Three minutes later, she received the (second) biggest shock of her life until that point - the pregnancy test was positive! Sarah and Chris were over the moon with joy. They knew there could be risks and complications ahead, so they chose not to share the news until the pregnancy was well under the way.
A Tragic Surprise
As it turned out, this was the best choice for them. One day, not long after their pregnancy test, Sarah went out to eat with friends on her lunch break. Upon returning to the office, she was overcome with a strange feeling and quickly excused herself.
She went to the office bathroom to find she had been bleeding. The bleeding continued throughout the day, and it could only mean one thing… Sarah had tragically miscarried. She tried not to let it get to her, but after two more miscarriages, she knew that she needed to explore other options.
Trying Something Different
Chris and Sarah weren’t quite ready for surrogacy, so they settled on a new approach for now: in vitro fertilization. They began taking the necessary steps in February 2018, with all of their hopes set on the possibility of pregnancy. Sadly, this wasn’t successful either.
The process managed to retrieve just seven of her eggs, which their doctors would then attempt to fertilize. Of those seven, only three could be used. But the fertilization process proved to be fruitless, too - of those three eggs, not a single one developed into an embryo.
Doctors began examining Sarah again in hopes of getting to the bottom of her fertility issues. As it turned out, she had suffered from extreme period cramping since she was a teenager, which clued doctors into the possibility of an underlying condition that might contribute to her infertility.
They finally came to a second diagnosis. Not only did Sarah have a unicornuate uterus, but she also had a condition known as endometriosis. Both were relatively under-researched, but in the case of endo, there was a viable treatment for Sarah. Did they have another shot at pregnancy?
Once she underwent endometriosis treatment, she could try one last round of IVF. It was an amazing feeling to have another chance, but Sarah and Chris knew not to get their hopes up. Even with the endometriosis treatment, there was still a possibility it would end in disaster.
Their doctors were hopeful, which helped. So they embarked on another round of the process, and Sarah’s eggs were transferred for fertilization. But just two months later, their worst fears came true - a second lot of embryos had not developed either. Their hopes were dashed all over again.
One More Plan
After another severe disappointment, the exhausted pair were strongly encouraged to pursue surrogacy by both their friends and doctors. But Sarah couldn’t let it go. She had always wanted to experience childbirth herself, and she still wasn’t ready to give up on that dream.
Her doctors understood, and they continued their research on the off chance that they had missed something. That’s when they came upon a fertility clinic that had been trialing some “fertility stuff,” in Sarah’s words. This new method of IVF was highly experimental, but Sarah was desperate for another chance.
A Pricey Dream
Unsurprisingly, all those months of exclusive fertility treatment hadn’t come cheap. Sarah and Chris were pouring all of their available resources into their efforts, from the constant fertility appointments, IVF treatments, endometriosis surgery, and now these highly expensive autoimmune courses.
When they had some spare time, they looked at their finances and realized that they had been spending a minimum of $3000 per week for months on end, not including Sarah’s medications. It had put them under immense financial strain, and they weren’t sure how long they could keep trying these new treatments.
Too Much Pressure
The stress continued to mount on the couple's shoulders. And it wasn't just the expenses that were taking their toll - they also had to juggle full-time jobs inbetween constant medical appointments and treatments. Both Sarah and Chris had businesses to run, and it was becoming too hard to maintain, particularly for Sarah.
For well over a year, she had refused to choose between her career and her fertility journey, but by January 2019, everything changed. In order to continue her progress, Sarah needed to undergo a five-hour-long transfusion. But she simply couldn’t take five hours off work. With one simple decision, she gave up on childbirth.
A Different Solution?
But that didn’t mean she had given up on parenthood. Though she couldn’t have her own child, there was still one last option. Sarah and Chris had always hoped they wouldn’t have to resort to surrogacy, but after so much struggling and failing, it seemed like the only viable option they had left.
After searching around, Sarah came across a young woman named Trisha. Trisha was based in Minnesota, and the two women met multiple times to ensure that she was the right fit to carry her and Chris’ unborn child. They soon felt confident that she was the ideal surrogate for them.
The Big Reveal
Surrogacy may not be as physically taxing as IVF, but it still involves a lot of paperwork and appointments. Sarah had finally arranged everything, and now it was time to start the process. She flew to Minneapolis one last time to liaise with Trisha and her husband Mason before they transferred the embryo.
As they stepped into the clinic, emotions were running high. Sarah held Trisha’s hand as they began the transfer, overwhelmed that the woman was willing to help her and her husband achieve their dream of starting a family. Both couples were understandably overwhelmed.
In her interview with Marie Claire, Sarah reflected on the time she spent preparing for the potential surrogacy. In those moments of waiting for the embryo to take hold, both women felt immense anxiety. Sarah told the surrogate, "Trisha, I hope you know, whatever happens, it's going to be okay."
Of course, that didn’t make it hurt any less when the pregnancy attempt failed. It was another notch in their belt of failures, and for some, it would have been too much. But Sarah had experienced enough disappointments by then that rather than giving up for good, it made it easier to get back up and keep trying.
The Miracle Treatment
Once the dust had settled and Sarah and Chris were emotionally ready to try again, she decided to find something new. For the first time in a year (since her last round of IVF), she was ready to commit her body to a new set of fertility treatments in the hopes that she might end up with a child.
That’s when she heard about the drug Lovenox from a friend who had experienced similar fertility issues. After seeing another fertility specialist, she was given Lovenox and prepared for the third attempt at IVF. If the supposed “miracle drug” did its job, she would finally have the solution she needed.
In late 2019, almost two years after their first round of IVF, Sarah underwent another embryo transfer. But she and Chris knew their odds weren’t good… so they doubled them! They asked Trisha if she would be willing to try again, with both women attempting pregnancy at the same time.
To their relief, Trisha was very happy to get involved again. She even went so far as to suggest using two of Sarah’s embryos to give them an extra chance of fertilization. Because her eggs were not “high quality,” i.e. had less chance of fertilization, the doctors were confident it wouldn’t result in twins.
Double the Good News
The results were well worth the wait. After more than 2 years of trying for a child of their own, Chris and Sarah finally got the good news that they had waited for. After six weeks, it was confirmed that Trisha was healthy and pregnant! And the good news didn’t end there.
During Trisha’s six-week check-up, doctors discovered that she wasn’t just pregnant… she was pregnant with twins. After so many disappointments and desperate attempts to conceive a single child, Chris and Sarah were repaid with double the good news, and they couldn’t be happier.
Better And Better
For Chris and Sarah, the news of Trisha’s double pregnancy was life-changing. So it made it all the more shocking when the doctors announced that Sarah’s IVF was also successful. She was pregnant as well! Although it seemed like an unbelievable amount of good luck, the couple was skeptical.
After all, miscarriage was just as much of a possibility as it had been before. Though she was doubtful she could carry the pregnancy to full-term, she made a commitment to live with as little stress as she could to give the child the best possible chance of survival. Thankfully, Trisha’s pregnancy took much of the stress away.
Sharing With The World
As unexpected as the ‘triple’ pregnancy was, another shock was just around the corner. The global pandemic began, putting severe travel restrictions on most of America. This meant that Sarah and Trish, who had grown very close through their surrogacy experience, had to communicate with each other and doctors over FaceTime.
But that wasn’t the only communication that needed to be done. Sarah’s pregnancy was underway, and it was getting more and more difficult to hide it. She knew she had to tell Trisha about the potential third child, as she had done so much for her and Chris. And naturally, Trish was ecstatic for her friend.
Mother, At Last
Despite her trepidations, Sarah and her doctors were amazed by the progress of her pregnancy. It had gone further than any of her previous pregnancies. And after 30 weeks, she finally allowed herself to feel hopeful and excited at the prospect of giving birth naturally!
The sense of peace and happiness that she felt, both about her own pregnancy and Trisha’s, may have been the reason she continued on without issue. Thirty-nine weeks into her pregnancy, Sarah’s doctors undertook an emergency cesarean and delivered Sarah and Chris’ first child, Kento.
Two More Bundles of Joy
Sarah finally got to experience holding her own flesh and blood in her arms, and she couldn’t contain her happiness. And if that wasn’t enough, just six weeks after the birth of Kento, Trisha was admitted to the hospital to deliver the twins. She also underwent a caesarian and gave birth to two beautiful babies.
Theo and Astrid were happy, healthy infants, weighing six pounds each. And Sarah watched the whole thing. "It was one of the most surreal experiences of my life," she told Marie Claire. "Watching your babies be born out of someone else's body." Their family of five was complete.
A New Reality
Now that their three children were born, it was time to introduce them to the rest of the world. Due to the pandemic and the private nature of Sarah and Trisha’s pregnancies, they hadn’t mentioned their plans on social media. So suffice to say, everyone was stunned by the news.
And they weren’t the only ones who were stunned. Over the following months, Sarah and Chris had to make enormous adjustments to their lifestyle to accommodate three new children. In fact, they had to change everything, as Sarah revealed to Marie Claire.
Meet The ‘Triblings’
During the first year of childhood, Sarah and Chris came up with a lovely term to describe their three children - “triblings.” After all, the kids were so close in age, but they weren’t technically triplets, so they knew they needed a new word that would explain the miraculous birth.
In truth, it would have been easy enough for Chris and Sarah to tell people they were triplets without explaining the full story. But for Sarah, it was important to have a word that acknowledged Trisha and her selflessness. After all, 1/3rd of their domestic bliss was because of her.
A Real Life Happy Ending
Sarah and Chris spent those first six weeks doting on their three bundles of joy. After years of struggles and disappointment, the couple finally had everything they wanted - and more. And as strange as it was, life now had to go back to normal. Sarah had a business to run.
Her mind-boggling fertility journey was over, and Sarah was excited to continue with her career and life as a new mother of three. ‘Oh my God, I feel like myself again.’ But they are just pure joy. I don’t know how else to describe it,” she told Marie Claire. Finally, she and Chris had a lifetime of domestic bliss to look forward to...